Sunday, February 15, 2009

10 Blunders New Small Business Owners Make

I see new owners and veteran entrepreneurs make these types of mistakes everyday. I have committed most of these mistakes in my earlier days as well. If you are just starting out and can avoid these mistakes-do so! If you have already committed some of these blunders there are ways to fix it and I will address those in a future post.

1. Thinking Everyone is a Customer- The truth is that not everyone wants to buy what you are selling and an even greater truth is that you should not want to sell to those who don’t need your services. Never start a business without a target audience in mind. Who would benefit MOST from your services? Who would YOU be happiest serving?

2. Networking with Everyone- Networking is a lot like dating. Just because someone is interested doesn’t mean you should go for it. Only network with people you truly have a connection with and discerning this does take practice. These types of decisions I often make using my intuition. What does your gut feeling tell you? I once knew a guy who really wanted to see if we could do something in partnership. The first time I spoke to him I felt something was off but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it (this is usually your intuition). Even though I knew deep down that this was not a beneficial venture for me I said yes. After many stressful conversations, I finally explained that I was not interested. It was a hard lesson but a worthwhile one. Since then I have learned to listen to my intuition when deciding who to network with.

3. Wasting Too Much- This goes for wasting too much time and money- Being disorganized will cost you-and it will cost you a lot in business. Learn strong organizational skills before you start your business. When I launched my first business, I was constantly glued to my inbox. I must have really believed that I was being efficient by checking my email and responding promptly. What a joke! Don’t spend too much time doing things that leave you feeling “busy” but are truly unproductive. As for money, remember that each dollar that goes out has to come back, otherwise you are running your business at a loss.

4. Being Too Stingy- This is the opposite extreme of number three. You become too stingy with your money and time. If you print your business cards on regular computer paper or you build your website using a two dollar template then you are risking committing this blunder. You want to make money and that is understandable but make the right investments for your business. This is to your long term advantage.

5. Not Getting Help When You Need It- There are lots of good business ideas out there and lots of business owners who care about their ideas. Unfortunately, many of these business owners don’t get the help they need in managing and running their businesses successfully. An entrepreneur is by no means a lone ranger. If you have a business that you care about and want to see it succeed, get help when you need it.

6. Afraid of Trying New Things- An entrepreneur knows no fear! Okay, just kidding. But you can’t be afraid to try new things. If something isn’t working you have to have the courage to scrap it and go in a new direction. If your current marketing methods are not working, try new ones! If the part-time employee you hired isn’t giving you the type of work you expected, get a new one. This may sound harsh and I am not advocating firing all your employees. I am simply stating that you have to be able and WILLING to change what isn’t working.

7. Thinking Short-Term- If you think short term, you will do anything to make a sale. Even sell to a person who doesn’t need your services. And in the long term this will cause you to crash and burn. New entrepreneurs are often too concerned with making the sale rather than building a brand and reputation. Short term sales using shot gun strategies will not help build your brand and reputation. But if you work on building your brand and reputation, the sales will follow.

8. Wanting it ALL-yesterday- A business (much like life) takes patience. You get to learn lessons, make mistakes (although you can avoid some by reading articles like this one), and fall in love with the process. A business is a process. It is a constant work in progress. If you want to wake up one day and have your business established-you are kidding yourself. Sure, you can have all the business essentials (a good website, wonderful clients, a marketing strategy, etc.) but a business is never completely established. A business must be constantly reinventing itself to better suit its customers.

9. Being too Serious- Life is short and business is supposed to be fun. Treat your clients with respect, offer something that adds value to society, make lots of money, and HAVE FUN! Entrepreneurs often get stereotyped as all work and no play but this is really not the case. Every successful business has some personality to it, and that business personality is a reflection of the owner’s personality. Let your personality shine through in your business. Not only will it make it easier and more fun, but it will also differentiate you from everyone else in your industry.

10. Working Hard- Don’t work hard. Work SMART! If something can be done an easier way, then do it. For example, when I first started my coaching company I would manually save each name and email address when someone subscribed to my newsletter. This was tedious and a huge blunder. Eventually, I found a company (aweber) and let them keep track! Optimize your business processes whenever you can.


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